Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dewey and The Internet

How do you think John Dewey's thoughts on the public relate to online journalism?

John Dewey's thoughts on the public and their relation to online journalism may seem a bit abstract at first sight but after reviewing information about his philosophies, it seems that his thoughts, which have been largely unpopular until recently, may be significant to web journalism after all. Dewey's anti-elitist attitude lends itself to today's world of online journalism which has revolutionized the distribution of knowledge. Dewey advocated that the “capacity of the wise few to discern the public interest tends to be distorted by their position.” This is important to think about in relation the history of journalism because during the early years of the printing press, only a few people were allowed to distribute print information for fear that the public would gain information that was harmful to the form of government at that time. They limited information because their personal biases would not allow information to be distributed if it didn’t align with their views, whether it was true or not.

With the evolution of the printing press and journalism’s eventual move to the online realm many years later, we have seen this idea of “limited information for most” slowly deteriorate. As time goes on, the public gains access to more and more information through the internet and their ability to be published has increased infinitely. The internet and our ability to stay connected to each other, in some ways, could possibly be the type of government that Dewey dreamt about. Dewey believes, “democracy should be viewed as a form of social relationship that cuts across different spheres of social life and unifies them,” which, some would say, is exactly what the internet does. Over the last ten years, access to the internet has become widely available and a large chunk of the population utilizes social networking sites to stay connected and meet new people along with receive and distribute a variety of information.

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